Earlier this year we wrote about the launch of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2A satellite and the mission to deliver a range of data products including land cover maps and bio-geophysical data. ESA have just released the Sentinel-2A orthorectified products, which are now available to download for free from the Sentinel-2 Data Hub https://scihub.copernicus.eu/s2/.
ESA have also posted a data quality report to document the current status of the data and provide information on product formats and features. As the programme is currently in a ramp-up phase, further improvements in the extent of coverage and the accuracy of the products are expected over the next few months.
Over the last three years we’ve written about a few of the problems associated with some data portals, which although well-intentioned, haven’t always provided the level of access to geospatial information that they promised. Interoperability issues, interface design and a lack of on-going support have contributed to many such initiatives failing to deliver. With the experience gained from those earlier efforts and perhaps the benefit of hind-sight, new initiatives are being developed to provide better access to the plethora of public domain and open data geospatial information that is available online.
Among those new initiatives is the ENERGIC OD project (European NEtwork for Redistributing Geospatial Information to user Communities – Open Data). Launched at the end of 2014, the project aims to address some of the problems that have resulted from the evolution of disparate and heterogeneous GI systems and technologies by providing what are referred to as Virtual Hubs. These hubs will provide a single point of access to geospatial datasets, including access to INSPIRE compliant systems and Copernicus satellite and sensor data (Copernicus was previously known as GMES). The brokering framework at the centre of the solution will allow the hubs to connect to a wide range of European data sources making it easier for end users, public authorities and private organisations, and developers alike to access the data without having to resolve the interoperability and standardisation issues themselves.
The ENERGIC OD project will run for three years and deploy five national virtual hubs in France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.
We’ve previously written about the launch and progress of the Sentinal-1A satellite, part of the European Union’s Copernicus earth observation project. Although still being commissioned and not yet in full production mode, the satellite recently provided radar imagery from Northern California captured before and after the Napa Valley earthquake on 24 August.
Using a technique known as ‘Synthetic aperture radar interferometry’, two images of the same area were compared to identify areas of significant change. Changes to the ground surface modify the reflected radar signal detected by the satellite, and those modified signals can be plotted as an ‘interferogram’ (Source: Radar vision maps Napa Valley earthquake.) The result is both colourful and striking; the fault responsible for the 6.0 earthquake was confirmed as the West Napa Fault, and both the scale and the extent of the surface rupture was immediately apparent.
Imagery like these examples captured for the Napa Valley quake looks set to transform how scientists and data analysts map and respond to earthquakes. With the launch of second Sentinel satellite (1B) in 2016, the imagery update cycle will be reduced from 12 to 6 days. The timely and open publication of high resolution data to support activities on the ground and post quake analysis after each event, should provide unprecedented monitoring of the Earth’s surface.
Last week the European Union (EU) announced the launch of the Sentinel-1A satellite, as part of the first of six missions that will provide the framework for the Copernicus Earth Observation project. Copernicus, formerly known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), aims to collect data from a variety of sources, including satellite, airborne sensors and ground stations, to support a range of applications including:
Monitoring sea ice zones and the Arctic environment
Assimilation of sea ice observations in the forecasting systems
Surveillance of marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security
Monitoring land surface motion risks
Mapping of land surfaces: forest, water and soil, sustainable agriculture
Mapping in support of humanitarian aid in crisis situations
A second satellite, Sentinel-1B, will be launched next year. Once the system is fully operational, the aim is to provide almost daily coverage for high priority areas like Europe, Canada and some shipping routes. The radar capabilities on-board the satellite mean that data can be collected independent of weather conditions, day or night.
Image source: http://bit.ly/1el9g6M
All of the data products collected by the Sentinel satellites are to be made publicly available as open data, free of charge, to all data users. This also includes the use of the data for commercial purposes. The Sentinel-1A satellite is expected to be operational within three months.
The past few months have seen the launch of a number of new spatial data portals and open data initiatives as governments and organisations continue to liberate their data stores. The portals include the Open Geography Portal, providing access to the geographic information behind the national statistics published by the UK Office of National Statistics. The datasets have been made available for free under the terms and conditions of the Open Government Licence. Visitors to the site can search for a variety of statistics related spatial data sets including administrative boundaries, habitat, agriculture, postcode and INSPIRE compliant data themes in the extensive data catalog.
Although having open access to spatial data resources such as the ONS repository is beneficial, the current design of the ONS portal highlighted some of the same issues with map portals we identified in an earlier post, primarily the lack a focussed and intuitive front end to identify relevant data sets quickly.
As for open data initiatives, the European Commission has recently agreed to provide free access to data captured by its new Sentinel Earth satellites. After a protracted evaluation process, and following the example of the US Government’s Landsat program, the Commission concluded that the benefits of making the data available for free, with the anticipated growth in value-added services based on the data, outweighed any potential harm to private sector satellite operators (Source: SpaceNews). The first three Sentinel satellites are expected to be launched within the next year. Originally known as the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) project, the new program of data capture has been renamed Copernicus.